Massage therapists oftentimes work in solitude and silence; however, the ability to connect and communicate with fellow health care professionals is essential when it comes to building your network.
A network provides referrals to (and from) your massage practice, and helps you be well-known in your city or town.
It takes confidence to build your network for success. There are specific steps you can take to project an attitude of self-possession and power, which I will detail in this article.
I have known many talented massage practitioners who provide excellent care, but who do not have the assurance and self-possession necessary to build their own practices.
Massage schools can teach you all about anatomy and physiology, pathology, massage techniques and marketing strategies—but massage school can’t teach you the confidence and emotional fortitude needed to put yourself out there and knock on doors to establish or grow your business.
I am not faulting anyone for being who they are. I respect those who know their limitations and manage to find satisfactory work situations that don’t test or stress them—but for those of you who want to create successful practices, you need to understand that you have to develop a certain amount of emotional strength and backbone to compete and succeed in business.
Believe in Yourself
A sole practitioner wears many hats. You have to be your own advocate, business manager, bookkeeper, receptionist, creative advertising director and, of course, professional massage therapist. That’s a lot of juggling and organizing that needs to be done—and it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes inner strength to take the initiative to build a successful business.
To begin, have faith in the work you do. The feedback you receive from clients who keep coming back tells you that your efforts are worthwhile and valued. That is a very powerful affirmation of your skills. Let the evidence of your talents give you the self-acknowledgement you need.
A few years ago, a book called The Secret was all the rage. To sum it up, the book talked about attracting positive situations by projecting positive energy. The book offered exercises, such as positive affirmations, to change your way of thinking and develop better habits to achieve your goals.
It’s the same with business: Confidence begets welcomed results. Conversely, if you send out negative energy, you’re most likely to fail in your efforts.
What this means from a practical standpoint is, regardless of the size of your current practice, your attitude when reaching out to clients or potential colleagues is important. Don’t approach anyone for business in a needy manner. This only works to make you seem unqualified and desperate. You need to present a positive, strong attitude, which will make people more responsive to you.
Believe in yourself and the talents you possess, and others will too.
A Level Playing Field
When approaching other health professionals, remember that you are on a level playing field. This is a difficult concept for many massage practitioners who want to work within the medical community; however, truly, there is no hierarchy in health care.
No one offers what you do, and no one is better than you in spite of their diplomas, successes or areas of expertise. We all need to work together and complement each others’ work.
When clients of yours get the help they need from you to feel better, this reflects well on you and on the person who referred you. Don’t lose sight of that. You’re supporting her business by providing excellent care. This prompts her to continue referring clients to you.
However, there undoubtedly will be people who will not be receptive to your overtures. Even the most successful salesperson doesn’t seal the deal all the time. Don’t let these potential clients or health professionals undermine your determination to spread your message and grow your business.
In most cases, their reluctance is not personal. It could be that these people don’t understand the value of massage therapy, or perhaps they are already working with another massage practitioner. Whatever their reasons are, don’t take this as a personal rejection.
You Can’t Lose
My attitude has always been that I can only gain; I can’t lose. If I start out with a client list of 20 people and by the end of the day, after knocking on doors, I still have the same number of clients, I haven’t lost anything. I might not have made headway in growing my practice, but I didn’t lose.
So, let the positive attitude that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain be your inspiration.
Besides, every time you approach someone, it’s a learning experience. The feedback you get can help you sharpen or focus your message for the next time—and maybe that’s exactly what your presentation needed.
The work we do is important. It helps people and changes their lives. How many careers can boast that? Believe in the power of touch, and this will sustain you and give you the confidence you need to build a meaningful and successful practice.
About the Author
Elaine Stillerman, a licensed New York State massage therapist since 1978, began prenatal/postpartum work in 1980. Her certification course, “MotherMassage®: Massage During Pregnancy,” is taught at U.S. massage schools. She is the author of four books, including Prenatal Massage: A Textbook of Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum Bodywork. She was named 2013 Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, Bon Vital’ and Biofreeze Educator of the Year, and was inducted into the World Massage Festival’s Massage Therapy Hall of Fame in 2013.
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